Bare-branched trees along the driveway whipped back and forth in a wearisome wind. I knew from my walk around the yard earlier, that the wind was cold, despite the bright sunshine and blue sky. Patches of snow covered most of the lawn. Very little ice melts on days like this. On my desk calendar I spotted small print on one of the days in mid March. Knowing what I’d see, I leaned in closer anyway. It said, “Daylight saving time begins.”
Although Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1784, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” he was not the man who introduced daylight saving. His satire merely proposed that Parisians get up earlier in the morning and go to bed earlier to save on candles. It was New Zealander George Hudson who proposed daylight saving in 1895.
The first place on the North American continent to implement daylight savings (DLS) was Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada in 1908. During World War I countries all over the world began using DLS to conserve fuel for the war effort. The use of DLS ended after that war but was put into effect again during World War II.
Pittsburg Industrialist, Robert Garland, was a prominent advocate for daylight saving in the early 19th century. Some people have named him the father of daylight saving time.
Even after over one hundred years of use, rules on when to start and end DLS are still being tweaked. Arizona is the only state in the United States which refuses to switch to DLS each spring.
Articles about daylight savings either praise or complain about DLS. The debate whether or not it really saves energy rages on. One article stated that during the oil embargo in 1973, DLS saved 10,000 barrels of oil each day. Other articles deny that DLS saves any fuel. Some claim more accidents and heart attacks occur after the change.
I’ve noticed the one hour change seems to either irritate or delight people I know. Few hold to the middle of the road. Some complain that the long dark mornings are dangerous for children making their way to school. Night shift co-workers express hating to work an extra hour in the fall. Dayshift colleagues dislike going to work in the dark in the spring.
My mother never officially took a stand for or against daylight savings, but there was no doubt in my mind about how she felt. In the fall, as we set the clocks back one hour, I often heard her comment with dour satisfaction, “Now we’re going back to God’s time.”
I could never understand why she said that, because I doubt God is concerned with time. Time is merely a human invention to make sure everyone shows up for their appointments.
The change of time in the spring and fall is welcome to me. I love the long summer evenings’ DLS produces. However winter days are going to be short no matter how we manipulate time.
Non-computer-connected clocks don’t change to DLS on their own at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. I need to remember to take them down off the wall before going to bed Saturday night and adjust them so I arrive at church on time the next day. The saying, “In the spring you spring forward one hour and in the fall you fall back one hour,” reminds me which way to turn the clocks.
Right now, the beginning of daylight saving signals me the weather will soon begin to warm. I can’t tell the warming has started yet. The cold wind that burned my ears and tugged on my coat collar as I went for my walk earlier still feels like winter. The birds can tell, though.
Birds that have been silent other than an occasional ‘chip-chip!’ during the winter now sing whole stanzas. I heard a cardinal sing its spring song, a heart-touching solo praising its mate and all of God’s beautiful creation.
Birds who couldn’t tolerate the harsh winter are slowly returning from the south. Their songs are like exotic instruments added to a string quartet to create a full orchestra. There is nothing but pure joy for all living creatures as we spring forward into spring.